Letter: A human pandemic has spread across Earth

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To the Editor:

There is an important lesson in understanding how a global pandemic works. A sub-virulent, highly contagious organism changes just enough to take over the metabolism of its host, multiplying out of control, compromising the host’s biological function, creating infection, high fever, and weakness. Most often, the host is healthy enough when infected to muster its immune system and eventually overcome and eliminate the pathogen, whereupon health returns. On occasion, however, if the host is already weakened from some other cause, the pathogen wins the war and death is the outcome.

From that perspective, we would do well to understand that the human species is now a global pandemic of Earth. We have changed technologically from our primitive biological ancestors and have now taken over the metabolism of the entire Earth, reproducing out of control, spreading to every corner, mining every available resource. Earth is now running a rising fever and showing multiple signs of weakness and vulnerability. Had Earth’s ecosystems been healthy at the onset of this coronavirus infection, we would weather it with little difficulty. But, it hits us now at a time when our climate is in danger of running away, when resources and particularly our soils are depleted, and whatever resistance we might have had to such an infection is reduced due to excessive crowding.

Humanity will almost surely survive this coronavirus event. But only almost. If we continue to reproduce out of control even further beyond the limits of Earth’s ability to sustain us, it is virtually certain that some variant of coronavirus down the line will put us in serious jeopardy of succumbing.

Donovan C. Wilkin